Sunday, 20 July 2008


Mamaduck has a little theory about why people keep trying to rob us in Madrid. It's because I look a bit like Richard Branson, who is known the world over as not being short of a bob or two. But the idea that he might be found travelling on Madrid's wonderful Metro, or anywhere else without a huge entourage, stretches the imagination somewhat. Actually, maybe I can sue Branson and get him to stop lookin like me...

We have not been succesfully robbed for a few months now. We can spot the potential perps and see them off, or at least get a long way away from them.

But today I had an entirely new almost-robbery experience. I was at a cash-machine in Lavapiés. Lavapiés is not an area that I feel entirely comfortable in: it's populated by lots of Africans and Asians (you racist bastard Keefie), and while I love it to bits, I do seem to stand out as a rich white man (I wish). So I'm always very careful when I'm in that area.

I needed to get some cash, so I popped my bank card into the machine, gave it my PIN, and was just about to tell it that I wanted forty Euros, when a seemingly drug-crazed kid appeared out of nowhere, hit the screen and then retreated a bit. I immediately hit the 'cancel' button and retrieved my card. Because of the stupid location of this machine, in direct sunlight with no kind of shade, it was extremely difficult to see what the screen was saying, but I knew from the vibration of my phone in my pocket that a transaction of more than fifty Euros had been attempted.

I needed to check what the machine was saying, but this kid kept getting in the way. I pushed him away, I told him to fuck off, I even kicked his arse. Sadly I was only wearing espadrilles, so it barely registered with him. And then a bloke came up and whacked him one in the face. The kid staggered away. MamDuck returned from whatever it was she had been doing. She'd noticed the kid, and registered that he seemed to be hurting.


I checked the message on my phone. It said I had just withdrawn 300 Euros.


I put my card back into the machine and asked it for a mini-statement. The balance was 300 Euros less than it should have been.


I was shaking like a shaky-thing. No idea what to do. In the end we just got on the Metro and left Lavapiés. This was such a weird situation: I had been attacked, and possibly robbed. I didn't know whether the guy who smacked the kid had been his accomplice, or whether there had been a third party who had taken the money while I was distracted. I didn't even know whether the money had actually been dispensed. I thought it hadn't, but when you are in situations like this, it's very hard to tell what's going on.

Anyhoo, you'll be pleased to know, I've just checked my account on the Interweb. I still have that 300 Euros.

And I still lurve Madrid.


Ynot said...

Sorry to hear you got robbed. Thus far I've been lucky- knock on wood- in Madrid (not so lucky when I lived in London).

As for you being a Branson might be, but as you probably have realised by now, in Spain Richard Branson is "Richard Bran-quien?" Who? Virgin does not fly to Spain, and no one knows who he is. This can only be a good thing.

It could be you are getting robbed because you look like an easy target? Do you dress Spanish? Honestly. Do you dress like someone who is British and is living in Spain or do you dress like a local? Not as silly as you might think. My Spanish friends can spot foreigners not because of what they look like (even Branson could be from Coslada!) but because of how they dress. When I lived in Paris, my Parisian friends used to say the same thing, you can always spot the foreigners by their clothes.

My advice: go to El Corte Inglés, or Cortefiel and buy some local looking threads. best thing about it, they are on sale!

Regards (and shortbread biscuits)!

Keefieboy said...

YNot: I've just been a-wandering around Chueca, checking out the way people dress. This is obviously not the best place to do it: there's a tall guy who always wears a hat and an old-fashioned-looking dress. There's a perpetually-drunk lady who sometimes lives on our doorstep but always wears unusual combinations of colours. And then there's 'normal' people, and frankly, I cannot identify any specific trends in clothing for blokes of my age. I'll tell you this though: I would not be seen dead wearing a checked shirt or grey polyester trousers.

When I was attacked the other day, I was wearing a big white shirt with many pockets (Columbia, from America), fake Levi's from the Rastro and faded brown espadrilles without socks.
Actually, that's all a lie. I was wearing a pin-striped suit, bowler hat and carrying a navy blue umbrella with the words 'I'm richer than you, and foreign, so it's ok if you try to rob me' printed on it.

I just don't understand this mentality that it's ok to rob foreigners. Mind you, I've never, ever been robbed in the UK. Strange.

Mars said...

alhamdulillah you still have your cash. I suppose foreigners are perceived as easy prey and it's a warped 'robin-hood' mentality.

Mme Cyn said...

Travel the world! See wonderful new sights! Meet fascinating new people! Get robbed by them!

Poor Keefie. It may not be the clothes. You probably walk around looking happy and interested in what's going on (which is how you usually look(ed) at least in Dubai). They figure you're a tourist. Walk around with a scowl and an air of purpose and disdain for your fellow man, and I bet they won't bug you.

dubaibilly said...

I just read this one and when I reached the end I breathed a huge sigh of relief that you still had your money - then I realised that I hadn't breathed all the way through the entry! You need to start writing thrillers!

Keefieboy said...

DB: guess what, the money had shown as a hold on my account, and at the time of writing this the hold had disappeared. But now, so has fecking money. I'll be having words with my bank after the weekend.

Jayne said...

keefie, one of the favourite tricks of theiving flatnoses is to unobtrusively attach a 'reader' to the slot where you put your card. It scans your card & somehow the bastards get to see your PIN number. I hope you manage to get your 300yoyos back - that's a heap of money to lose :-(

Mark said...

Sadly central Madrid (and because of Brit speculators LavaPies is now regarded as central Madrid) attracts thieves, who know that Guiris and Japs are likely to be around (and have larger salaries). Live a bit further out in places like Barrio del Carmen or Diego de Leon, and you'd probably never come across these types. A bit unnerving to hear about the cashpoint scam though - I suspect that here in the UK this will become more common too. I may start reverting to visiting the bank to extract cash.